Robert Brooks Griffith
“All the heat and fear purged itself. I felt surprisingly at peace. The bell jar hung, suspended, a few feet above my head. I was open to the circulating air.”
Robert Brooks Griffith, 36, of Greenville, South Carolina, passed away, surrounded by his family, on November 2, 2023 after a brief battle with cancer. The lines above are from The Bell Jar, the only novel written by his favorite poet, Sylvia Plath. The main thing about these lines are simply what they reveal about Brooks: He was a smart, heady guy, but he lived in the freedom of his heart.
He was a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina—the son of Robert Warren Griffith, Jr., and Bonnie Hicks Griffith, both of Greenville, South Carolina. Surviving, in addition to his parents, are one sister, Jordan Griffith Callaway (Keefe) of Greenville, South Carolina; one niece, Tallulah Jane Callaway; and one brother, Walker Ellis Griffith of Greenville, South Carolina.
Brooks was a member of St. James Episcopal Church. He was a graduate of the University of Alabama, his beloved alma mater, which gave him an unaccountable joy on the gridiron (particularly the Nick Saban era). He was also a fanatical (and often fanatically frustrated) New York Jets fan. But Brooks’ strong sense of self-irony helped him keep it all in perspective.
He had many talents and strengths. He was an English major / Creative Writing minor who wrote wonderfully well—not in a stodgy academic sense, but in a very real, living, breathing style. His acute eye to detail was as likely to point out beauty as it was mischief. His rehearsal dinner speeches are the stuff of legend…as are his impassioned karaoke renditions that ran the gamut of pop, rock, metal, even a little country when the mood struck him right.
As everyone knew, Brooks had a tremendous wit: uncliched, rapier-like, and often subtle. He loved music, too, in particular U2, The National, Bruce Springsteen, Orville Peck, and many others. He was an unabashed wrestling fan, a pop culture enthusiast, and a frighteningly gifted trivia wizard.
But above all, Brooks was a friend. A soul to confide in. An open heart that desired to help others. That was his true gift, as well as is legacy. His service to the special needs and elderly community was a driving passion. He worked as a respite worker for multiple children and adults, was a caregiver to many, assisted with the Special Olympics softball, dance, and soccer teams, was counselor at Camp Spearhead for Special Needs, and on and on. Most recently he worked as an autism aide at Grove Elementary School until his passing. Brooks loved this job so much and often talked about wanting to go back to school to be a teacher. That was unnecessary, of course, because Brooks was already a teacher. He taught all of us by the way he lived: the way he viewed the world, the way he saw the best in people, the way his compassion was inexhaustible, and the way he cared about you, me, and so many others. Brooks was a true gem.
When Brooks was asked what he thought regarding having an aggressive form of cancer, he replied “Of course I am scared, who wouldn’t be? But I’m not scared of death because I know where I am going.”
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, November 18, 2023, at Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church conducted by Reverend Mark Tankersley. Burial will follow in Woodlawn Memorial Park. Visitation will be held 5-8 p.m. Friday, November 17, 2023, at The Wood Mortuary.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Camp Spearhead, 4232 Highway 11 Marietta, South Carolina 29661, or Special Olympics Greenville, at 4806 Old Spartanburg Road, Taylors, SC 29687.
Online condolences may be made to www.thewoodmortuary.com.